Things change. Financial conditions fluctuate. Health crises arise. There are many situations that you can now find yourself in that were unanticipated at the time of your divorce decree. All of these experiences and many more can create the need for you to modify your existing court orders.
Our New Jersey Divorce Attorneys Can Help
Talk is cheap initially, but can cost you a pretty penny later. You may verbally agree with your former spouse to alter a payment amount or schedule at first, but what happens when you reach a point when you no longer see eye-to-eye? You may not be able to collect monies that were promised or may be liable for back payments owed.
Traditionally, oral understandings are not enforceable in New Jersey. Our skilled family law attorneys at The Law Offices of O'Toole & Gunteski LLC can help you legally adjust your court orders to reflect your current needs.
Altering Child Support Orders
New Jersey law requires that those seeking to change the terms of their child support must prove "changed circumstances." The burden of proof is on the petitioner, whether they be the obligee or obligor. These circumstances must be shown to be permanent and unforeseeable.
Some change in circumstances to alter child support orders could include:
- Change in the obligor's or obligee's income
- Child or parent becomes seriously ill or disabled
- Obligee now resides with another adult
- Child wishes to go to college
If the court agrees that there is sufficient evidence to support a modification, the judge is required to consider the same factors used to reach the original order. These criteria include the present needs of the child and the current economic condition of each parent.
Alimony Adjustments in New Jersey
Just as in altering a child support older, parties requesting an alimony adjustments must prove a change in circumstances. These are usually the result of an increase or decrease in either spouse's income.
Alimony payments are usually determined by a "marital standard of living" calculated at the time of the divorce. If this wasn't considered as part of the original settlement, a hearing may be necessary to establish one. Also similar to child support orders, spousal support should have a cost of living adjustment (COLA) built in. Having no COLA in the original orders could be suitable grounds to grant alimony modification.
When either party cites a personal decrease in income as their justification for modification, they must prove the reduction was involuntary. The decline in revenue also may not be solely for the purposes of avoiding spousal support payments or a deliberate failure to become self-supporting. An unexpected job loss, disability or retirement could be the basis for an alimony adjustment.
Changing Equitable Distribution or Vacating an Order
Changing an equitable distribution plan or vacating an order involves a stricter burden of proof. The petitioner necessitates presenting "exceptional and compelling circumstances." The enforcement of the current order must be proven to be unfair or excessively burdensome.
Legal reasons to modify equitable distribution or vacate an order include:
- Newly discovered evidence that would have affected the original decision
- Fraud on the part of the alternate spouse
- Reasonable mistake or unforeseen circumstance resulting in carelessness or neglect
Don't Go at It Alone
Having our knowledgeable and dedicated family law attorneys by your side can give you an increased chance of success when seeking to modify a court order. At The Law Offices of O'Toole & Gunteski, LLC, we can provide you with our New Jersey divorce lawyers who can guide you through the complicated process.
To reach one of our experienced divorce attorneys serving Monmouth and Ocean counties, contact us today for a confidential case evaluation !